When I started using SoundHack, I saw one could add an .aiff header to a non-sound file thus turning any piece of digital information into a sound file. So I tried once, got very excited and proceeded to quickly forgetting about it. In the Cycling ’74 forum someone posted a question about just that and so I thought I’d try it again.

I recently bought myself a Sound Devices 702, which I very much love! I added an .aiff header to the instruction manual PDF.

This is what 74 pages of crucial info sound like:
sound of 702 manual

I didn’t do anything to it apart from bringing down the insanely high volume. The six seconds of sound is exactly the length of the converted 74 pages.

This is what the waveform looks like:
Full Waveform

And here’s a closer look:
Waveform Closer

12 Responses to “The Beautiful Sound of an Instruction Manual {+ hack}”  

  1. 1 edu


    more or less,…. something quite similar, using weird data to generate sound and composition!


  2. 2 Andrew Spitz

    Cool! Thanks for the links.

  3. 3 sixnon

    any possibility to convert that back from the audio file to the text, or is too much data lost? I’m interested from a steganographic point of view. 6 seconds of audio is an efficient way to send a 76 page manual in circumstances where email not available [for example]

  4. 4 Andrew Spitz

    Yes you can, I just tried it and it worked, all I did was change aif extension back to .pdf. However, it is exactly the same amount of data: 827KB. So if you’re after saving space, then no point, but if you’re after hiding messages then it might be a good option 😉

  5. 5 sixnon

    Thanks Andrew, can you run me through the process? I was thinking that the sound file could be transmitted, for example, as an mms by mobile phone, then decoded as pdf at the recipients end…..

  6. 6 Andrew Spitz

    I don’t know if it would work if converted to an other format (ie: mp3). Can you send .aif or wav files via mms? anyway, the process (that I went through) was to use Soundhack, which is freeware and downloadable from http://www.soundhack.com.

    Open it, then choose [file –> open any…] and choose your pdf or whatever file then choose [hack –> change header…] and pick .aif or any format you want.

  7. 7 sixnon

    I imagine mp3 would remove a significant amount of information and thus render the process irreversible, you cant send files per se, but you can send short recordings via mms.

    I did use that process, using a pdf in soundhack, but the file was 0.0s in length, so thought there must be an intermediate step. Thanks for your input, tho.

  8. 8 Andrew Spitz

    I forgot to add a step. After you’ve chosen the bit depth and stuff during the header change, close that window (press cancel if it won’t let you). Once closed, go to [file –> save A copy] and then you’ll have the file type and bit depth options. It should then be saved properly, and work. Please let me know how you come along. Good luck.

  9. 9 sixnon

    Thanks Andrew, lost track of this post until now. I followed those steps, and whilst I could change the aiff file back to a pdf such that OSX would recognise it, when I tried to reopen it with Preview, i received a file damaged/unable to be opened error..

  10. 10 Andrew Spitz

    umm, not sure then. It worked when I tried. Sorry…

  11. 11 sixnon

    Thanks Andrew,

    had no expectation that you would, just wanted to respond to your comment. I’ll let you know if I work out what the issue is.

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